This is an 'I'm not dead' update.

I'm still here, but dec burned me out and I'm still recovering and playing catch up. My boss was sick in hospital most of dec (not covid but still nasty poor thing) and we've all been pulling extra shifts to cover on top of worrying and dec insanity its only just easing up now.

I've managed to get little bits of writing done. But I probably won't manage any kind of regular updates before feb. But I will get back on track of regular updates eventually I promise! I know where the story is going, and I already have the summer and part of book 5 plotted out. So never fear! It's not being abandoned. It's just going to take a bit more time while I get my feet under me again. I hope you all had a lovely December. Thank you all for your lovely messages and comments and wishes of support. I feel all warm and fuzzy :)

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This one is for you, thank you for all your lovely comments and support.

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The vow wasn't made anywhere dark and moody. It wasn't made on a deserted hilltop in the middle of a stormy night away from prying eyes in a suitably spooky and mysterious setting.

The vow was made in the cozy, somewhat ordinary living room of Lily's flat in Nocturne. She and Sev had been hunkered down there since Sev had worked out she was pregnant.

"I don't see a way out Sev. I'm scared. Scared for me, scared for Bean. I can't see a way out of this contract. I don't want Bean growing up with Potter in his life. But I can't see a way out. And we're at war. What happens if..." She trailed off, squeezing her eyes shut and turning to Sev who automatically put a comforting arm around his best-friend.

"I'll always have your back, no matter what," Sev said, holding her tighter, not sure what else to say when he was just as scared. Trust Potter to screw them over again; as if the war wasn't already enough.

"I'm scared Potter will try and screw with my kid," Lily said, "look what a mess he's made of our lives."

"Me too," Sev said bluntly.

"How can I protect Bean from him when I can't even keep us safe! I was such a fool."

"It was an accident. We all make mistakes. We'll work it out."

"But what happens if I don't? What happens if I'm not there?"

"You will be," Severus snapped with anger that she knew hid his fear, "and if not I'll watch over Bean. I'll make sure he or she is safe." Severus said sounding pained.

"Swear it?" Lily said, turning in to him with a desperate kind of panic in her eyes that had been slowly building for weeks. It wasn't just the worst they were planning for, they were panicking for it too.

"Of course, in blood and magic," Severus said completely seriously.

"Please," was all Lily said summoning a ritual knife from the bookshelf.

"Of course," Severus said knowing exactly what she meant; what reassurance she was asking for. They always had been on the same wavelength, even as children.

Lily took the knife and ran it across her palm, the blood welling but not spilling.

"With Hekate as our witness do you, Severus Snape swear on your blood and magic to watch over my child, especially if I cannot?" Lily said, handing him the knife.

Severus cut his own palm, and they clasped each other's wrists, their hands slippery with blood.

"I, Severus Snape do so swear on my blood and magic to watch over your child," he said solemnly as their magic swelled and joined. The blood from their cut palms heated and spread like a snake joining their clasped arms.

"And do you swear on your blood and magic to protect them and look after them to the best of your ability?"

A second rope of blood coiled around their bound hands.

"I do so swear." He said watching their blood and magic mingling tying their vow together.

"Then let it, by Hekate's will, be done," Lily said, and the blood caught fire.

"Upon Blood and Magic, so mote it be." They chanted, finishing the ritual vow.

They waited for nearly a moment with bated breath to see if the vow would be accepted and blessed. It was. The trails of flame turned purple, tightening around their joint arms, searing the flesh in a blinding flash, leaving only healed, scarred flesh behind.

"Thank you," Lily said shakily, resting a hand to her still flat belly.

"Thank you," she echoed, leaning forward to rest her head on Severus's shoulder, borrowing his strength, suddenly exhausted.

"Anything, always." He said, wrapping her in his arms again and holding her close.

"I've been dreaming again," she admitted softly.

"Of the divination kind?" He asked with knowing apprehension.

She nodded into his shoulder, "nothing good, green light, laughter. I'd leave, but stuck in this contract, we'll be stuck here. Potter's too proud to run, and he won't let us get away... I don't want my baby hurt, and I want to live to meet Bean, to see Bean grow old."

"You will. We'll work it out, we'll be okay," Severus said, but he wasn't sure they would be, and neither was she. But they'd do their best and pray to Hekate that it was enough.

"We'll keep researching, we'll find a way out," Lily said.

"We'll find a way out. We'll keep working at it, Lils, just like we always have. We'll manage."

"We always do."

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Sorry to end on a down note, and I know its small, but something to tide you over until I can polish up another chapter.